Anomaly Mars Airborne Laser Test

An apparent malfunction with a valve prevented the Airborne Laser Test Bed from completing an attempt last week to shoot down a boosting ballistic missile off of the central California coast, the Missile Defense Agency announced. The objective of the Oct. 21 mission was for the testbed aircraft to destroy a solid-fuel, short-range missile with the megawatt-class laser beam fired from the testbed’s nose turret. Although the target missile launched successfully and the ALTB’s sensors appear to have acquired and tracked the missile’s plume, the testbed “never transitioned to active tracking,” states MDA’s release. Therefore, the high-energy lasing did not occur. MDA said it will conduct an investigation to determine why the testbed did not transition to active tracking. “The intermittent performance of a valve within the laser system is being examined,” reads the release.